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Coliseum panel to discuss USC

December 05, 2007|Sam Farmer and David Wharton | Times Staff Writers

The Coliseum Commission will gather for its regular monthly meeting today expecting to discuss a possible compromise to ensure USC continues to play its home football games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

USC's lease with the commission ended with the finish of Saturday's game against UCLA. School officials, who have submitted a lease proposal to Pasadena's Rose Bowl in case they are unable to reach an agreement to stay at the Coliseum, met in Los Angeles on Sunday with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to address the impasse. They also have been in contact with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"The mayor and the governor have been very supportive and are working hard behind the scenes to try to figure out a compromise that works," said Todd Dickey, USC senior vice president and general counsel.

"The governor believes that USC should be playing in the Coliseum" and is "looking to see where he could be helpful to bring resolution to their negotiations," said Adam Mendelsohn, a spokesman for the governor.

Five of the nine commission members were appointed by either the governor or the mayor. If all the commissioners are present to vote, it would take six votes to pass any proposal.

Dickey said there has been no response from the commission since USC confirmed it is pursuing a deal with the Rose Bowl. "The commissioners are the ones that have to vote," he said.

In October, at the request of the school, the commission offered USC a two-year lease extension. It was rejected.

USC is seeking a master-lease agreement that would allow it -- and not the commission -- to run the stadium.

Commissioner Bill Chadwick, a state appointee, said he would strongly support a counteroffer to USC to restart negotiations and find a compromise. "I'm willing to take the first step or the second -- I'm not counting -- to get a deal done," he said.

On its website, USC has urged the public to attend the meeting, which begins at 2 p.m.

Said Chadwick: "There is a high level of anxiety on both sides."

The Rose Bowl Operating Co. will meet Thursday, when it is expected to study a proposal by USC to play at the stadium in 2008 with an option for the next season. Dickey said last week that if the Rose Bowl officials agree to a lease, USC will sign it.

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Times staff writer Michael Rothfeld contributed to this report.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

david.wharton@latimes.com

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